Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has described the All Progressives Congress (APC) consultative zonal meeting on true federalism held in Akure yesterday as an opportunity for Nigerians to remove the albatross in the nation’s constitution, which hinder her progress.
Akeredolu said this at the zonal meeting on restructuring held at the state’s International Culture and Event Centre (The Dome).
The stakeholders comprise representatives from Osun , Ekiti and Ondo States. The Governor charged them to seize the meeting as opportunity to right the wrongs in the constitution and the Nigerian structure, saying that it will go a long way in managing affairs maturely and peacefully resolve all contending issues in the polity.
According to him, “We must take steps that will make Nigeria focus on sustainable human, social and economic development. “
Represented by his Deputy, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, the Governor said the need to suggest a series of reforms culminating in a new constitutional order cannot be over-emphasised.
At the meeting, stakeholders expressed concern about devolution of powers, what should be the federating units, fiscal federalism, revenue allocation, derivation principles, form of government, creation and/or merger of states, regionalism, state police, federal character and local government autonomy among others.
Akeredolu noted that the call by most Nigerians for true federalism is an indication that something must be done urgently to assuage the nerves of all concerned and navigate the country’s ship from the precipice.
His words: “We call on all concerned to allow the true spirit of patriotism and nationalism to prevail at the end of the exercise which we must see to a logical conclusion.”
Speaking at the event, Secretary, All Progressives Congress (APC) Committee on True Federalism, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi said the committee will consult the report of the 2005 Political Reforms Conference, the 2014 National Confab and reports of previous national conferences in its assignment to determine the party’s position on restructuring.
Represented by a member of the Committee, Mrs Rachael Akpabio, Adetunmbi said the Committee met four times and identified 12 key issues for discussion at the public hearing.
According to him, the public hearing which will hold in Benin, Enugu and Ibadan will end with a meeting with civil society organisations and professional groups in Abuja on October 9.
He said: “Accordingly, and pursuant to its mandate, the Committee met, deliberated and listed out the following issues and called for memoranda from members of the public.
“The 12 issues Nigerians will have opportunity to air their views on are as follow; Creation/merger of states and the framework and guidelines for achieving that;
Derivation principle bordering on what percentage of federal collectible revenue should be given back;
Devolution of powers on what item on the exclusive legislative list should be transferred to the recurrent list and federating units, especially state and community police, prisons
Federation Units: Should Nigeria be based on regions or zones or 36-state structure; Fiscal federalism and revenue allocation and Form of government (parliamentary or presidential)
Others are; Independent candidacy; Land tenure system; Local government autonomy; Power sharing and rotation; Resource control; and Type of legislature.
Adetunmbi said contributions would not be limited to members of the party, but to all Nigerians who have something meaningful to say on the development of the country.
“We must recognise that the work of nation building is an ongoing process in which every stakeholder has a role to play, by making his own contribution. In this case, the APC as a national political party is an institution and a stakeholder that has a role to play in making its own contribution.
“This exercise is its own way of making that contribution. The APC felt that it is not necessary to think alone among ourselves, but to also ask members of the public what they think. That is why everything this Committee is doing is not about its own opinion, but harvesting the opinion of the ordinary people in order to form an opinion. After all, no political party exists just by itself, but by the mandate of people.
“In this regard, we have put up an announcement calling on members of the public to submit memorandum and meet us at designated venues without any discrimination. So, it is an open invitation to all Nigerians to attend and make their views and voices to count”, he said.
Also contributing, Senator Olorunnimbe Farukanmi, from Akure North Local Government, decried the excessive proliferation of states and local governments in Nigeria which has created numerous problems in the presidential and unitary form of government being funded with the crude oil wealth.
He suggested for restructuring, parliamentary system of government as against the expensive Presidential system which had impacted negatively on the infrastructural resources available for the populace.
He however, canvassed for the local government autonomy to be upheld in order for the resources acruable to them be used for their development, thereby making each of them independent.
Olorunnimbe also agitated for each level of government to be allowed to remain as provided for, by the constitution and as well, canvassed for the creation of North West, North East, North Central, South West, South East and the South South regions.
Addressing Journalists after the exercise, Mrs Akpabio stated that APC is taking a position on how and when the Country would be restructured.
“To this end, we have been able to collect some memorandum. We will read through them, put them together and present them to the party (APC) that sent us and thereafter, make our position known about the restruction of this country.
“I am glad that the outing was a success and I thank all the participants for their matured conducts”, she said.
Presenting a memorandum, Olukare of lkare, HRM, Obas Akadiri Momoh, assured the support of royal fathers for the development and unity of the country.
On his part, the Osenawe of Ondo Kingdom, Oba Victor Kiladejo, noted that Nigeria ad a diverse social polity with many ethnic -linguistic groups, saying there must be equity , justice and sense of belonging through empowerment of the constituents.